Madeleine L’Engle, in Penguins and Golden Calves, defines an icon as “something I can look through and get a wider glimpse of God…saying something that cannot be said in words.”
As I grow older, I’m also growing more mindful of the things that remind me of His presence day to day, here, near me where I live – my personal icons, if you will.
Foremost among these are trees.
The trees of my earliest memories are those in front of Grandma and Grandpa’s house – two massive trunks, strong and steadfast; huge graceful boughs spreading sheltering arms over the whole yard, making a living canopy of dappled light and shade under which my cousins and brother and I could play untroubled by the hot South Texas sun. Although Mama remembers when the house was built and the trees were planted, by the time of my childhood the place was comfortably settled and had, in my small consciousness, the air of that which always had been and always would be.
The home I live in now is a couple hundred miles northeast of Grandma and Grandpa’s old place, and several million miles removed from anything they would ever have imagined in terms of square footage, automation, and what they would call extravagance. But it’s the first place I’ve ever lived that has this air about it, this essence of home. There are seven trees on the lot, anchored by a magnificent oak in the backyard. I sit outside every morning early, airing my mind and soul and soaking in the strength, stability, and solace that seem to emanate from its heart.